Posts Tagged ‘art’

Enzo Mari’s classic 1970s chair modified by artists and designers – Presentation House Gallery auction

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Enzo Mari chair modified by Omer Arbel

Vancouver’s Presentation House Gallery turns 30 this year and will soon move to a beautiful new building designed by the eminent Vancouver firm Patkau Architects. To mark its birthday and raise money for the move, PHG is holding an innovative benefit auction in which major Vancouver artists and designers have been given a classic 1970s Enzo Mari Sedia 1 chair and asked to modify or reinterpret it. See the full list of artists and works on the auction blog (just note that not all of the works have been delivered, so some of the entries don’t have photos yet). The auction is on Saturday, November 23, 2013. Tickets available by phone 604.986.1351. As of publication of this post I think there are a small number of tickets left.

Above is “68.3 chair” which is the original Mari chair sandblasted by noted Vancouver designer Omer Arbel, principal at Omer Arbel Office and creative director of Bocci. Presumably Arbel’s title refers to the percentage of the original chair left after sandblasting, by weight? Perhaps this is how the original chair would look had it been left to weather in desert winds since the 70s.

Below is an as yet untitled chair by Russell Baker, partner and principal designer for BOMBAST Furniture. I like many of the chairs in the auction but on balance I think this is the one I would bid on if I had the dough. It’s beautiful, and its atypical combination of emblems and identity markers is poignant in a way that is hard to put your finger on. I like that Russell also consulted a YouTube video on how to make pompoms so he could construct these by hand.

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Achilles chair, Espeth Pratt & Javier Campos

Above, Achilles by artist Elspeth Pratt and architect Javier Campos. The chair has been treated using a traditional Japanese method of preserving wood by turning its surface to charcoal using a torch. Architects Shigeru Ban and Terunobu Fujimori have used this ancient preservation method in their architecture. Using it here, however, renders the chair non-functional since the carbon seems likely to rub off on clothes. That is, the treatment effectively renders the chair a work of art or conceptual architecture, not furniture. (In fact though I am sure the surface has been treated in such a way that this wouldn’t happen.)

PHG auction chair - Ian's crate by Brian Jungen

Above, Ian’s crates by artist Brian Jungen. Brian has famously worked with chairs before, his whale skeletons made from disassembled white plastic chairs. Here, however, he does not disassemble a Mari chair but actually copies one from an old art crate that once transported the work of fellow artist Ian Wallace. Clever play on the contrast between functionality and art, furniture and meaning, utility and transformation.

And below, SMPTE Colour Index Study Number 001, the Sedia 1 chair disassembled and reassembled in one plane and painted in video colour bar tones by Douglas Coupland. Who was, by the way, born in North Vancouver’s nearby Lion’s Gate Hospital, so PHG gallery is close to home for him. Another copy of the original chair is included in the photo by way of comparison.

modified Enzo Mari chair by Douglas Coupland

Check back to the blog over the next week as more photos will appear.

 

Artist Jeremy Deller’s 2001 “Battle of Orgreave” – restaging a violent clash of the 1984 UK miners’ strike

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Jeremy Deller - Battle of Orgreave

In 2001 UK artist Jeremy Deller restaged the Battle of Orgreave, a violent 1984 clash between Yorkshire miners and police during the UK miners’ strike, and one of the many dark events of the Thatcher years. 2001 was an interesting moment to choose for such a restaging; this incident of the Thatcher years was 17 years past and not at the front of anyone’s consciousness. Perhaps this very amnesia was part of Deller’s motivation. In the historical reconstruction he employed 800 people, including 284 local community members many of whom had actually been involved in the strike and even the clash itself. In some cases those who had been miners played police in the reconstruction, and vice versa. The restaging was filmed by director Mike Figgis for a Channel 4 TV documentary.

The death of Maggie Thatcher this week brought Deller’s piece to mind again, since Thatcher was of course the origin of those dire events in Yorshire.  It’s a brilliant, affecting artwork. This is probably an unauthorized video (not mine) and I’m not sure how long it will stay up, so it’s worth watching while you can.

Deller won the Turner Prize in 2004.

Artist George Norris (1928-2013), creator of Vancouver’s popular giant steel crab sculpture

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Vancouver Museum & Planetarium

George Norris, the artist who made what is arguably Vancouver’s most famous piece of public art—a giant steel crab in front of the Vancouver Museum and Planetarium—has died in Victoria.  It’s odd that so few know Norris’s name, considering the crab’s popularity, how prolific he was in his career, and his long art teaching career in Vancouver and Banff.

Vancouver does have a  long history of ignoring its own artists even as they’re celebrated elsewhere, but I’m still surprised that so many of Norris’ public pieces have been removed and destroyed, including the tall steel piece below which used to stand outside Pacific Centre downtown. This post is just a small reminder of Norris’ work. Find more information— here and many more works here.

One of Norris’ most popular works is the frieze on the exterior of the post office at 8th and Pine (I believe that’s the corner). Photo below.

Norris was trained in Vancouver and London at the Slade School. Norris is the uncle of award-winning Vancouver artist Arabella Campbell

Georgia & Granville – vanished Norris sculpture

George Norris Post Office frieze

 

H.R. MacMillan Planetarium, Vancouver

Everybody works but the vacant lot

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Condo artwork by artist Alex Grünenfelder
Everybody works but the vacant lot, Henry George as quoted by Fay Lewis

This is a parody artwork at Vancouver’s 221A Artist-Run Centre, parodying the “Micro Loft” building being erected next door to it in the current lightning-fast condo land rush taking place in Chinatown.

From their website:

221A is pleased to present Cube Living (Phase 2), a 4-week artist-in-residence with artist and designer Alex Grünenfelder, running from January 23 to February 25, 2013. Grünenfelder will examine how real estate developments operate as containers that capture living space as urban spatial commodities through the packaging of bodies, objects, lifestyles, identities, capital and politics.
Grünenfelder will begin a limited release of micro-properties measuring 1 cubic foot. This innovative product addresses the stagnation and endemic unaffordability of Vancouver’s real estate market. In developing a spatial commodity that can be purchased in very small units, Cube Living is able to offer affordable properties at prices under $50! Micro-properties are an accessible solution to the inflated real estate market crisis that threatens to push Vancouver’s economy into decline.

Many Vancouver residents find it difficult or impossible to enter the market. Despite government urban densification policies that have brought 10,000 new condo units to the city each year, [1] Vancouver remains the second least-affordable city in the world. [2]

Vancouver has experienced explosive real estate development since 1986. In the 2000s, then-mayor Sam Sullivan’s Ecodensity program initiated radical urban densification with the aim of promoting housing affordability and environmentally sustainable neighbourhoods. Pundits declared that flooding the market with new condos would result in more affordable—or at least stable—prices, so that new buyers could purchase small units and eventually trade up into a larger living space. Buildings got taller and condos got smaller, but prices have kept rising. Development and construction hasn’t been able to meet the goal of affordability and now the city is faced with a dire situation.

“The current property market is almost saturated. Sales are in decline because people can’t afford to lower their asking prices. We need to expand into new markets, and the only way to produce a lower tier of affordable entry-level properties is to create highly liquid, easily tradeable micro-spaces. This is the only way to address the affordability crisis within our market-driven real-estate economy.”

[1]RBC. “Vancouver’s housing market: moderation in store but vulnerable to a harsher outcome.” April 2012. Page 6. http://www.rbc.com/economics/market/pdf/vancouverhouse.pdf

[2]Demographia. “9th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survery: 2013”. Page 2. http://www.demographia.com/dhi.pdf

Ha.

221A website, twitter, Facebook event.

Art and cooperatives in the economy

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Elvy del Bianco on art and cooperatives

Photo by Dan Toulgoet , Vancouver Courier – Elvy Del Bianco presents rare films shot in Vancouver between 1964 and 1988 at the Waldorf Hotel in 2011.

This is one of the more interesting short talks I’ve listened to, and I’m posting it here in the hope that it gets wider distribution. It was presented by Elvy Del Bianco, a researcher with major BC credit union VanCity, itself a cooperative. Del Bianco’s position at VanCity is quite unique; his job is to research the relationship between arts and innovation and promote a cooperative business model in an attempt to foster social capital locally. What is social capital? Well, the short answer is that it’s the various benefits of cooperation. Del Bianco explains using the model of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, one of the most profitable in the EU thanks to its “lego economics” in which smaller businesses (balsamic vinegar, parmesan, even Ferrari) combine resources to leverage economic power. Culture both plays a role in and benefits from this model. It is also interesting to note that the region is not just wealthy but is one of the most democratic anywhere, with a small income gap in what is historically a left-wing Italian heartland with a long history of employee-owned companies.

Below is Del Bianco’s 6-minute talk at Vancouver’s Pecha Kucha, and it’s well worth watching no matter where you live. The audio is a little challenging at points, and as I found out when I spoke at Pecha Kucha, you have to speak quickly if you want to fit complex ideas into a 6 minute spiel. But it’s an extremely interesting talk. His comments the challenges facing arts and culture in Vancouver are interesting; he talks about condo development speculation driving unaffordability, as well as the massive, unique-in-Canada massive cuts to cultural investment on the part of BC’s provincial government.

Bianco is himself an artist, having worked many years as an actor after training at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He grew up in East Vancouver.

Enjoy the music

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

…. and this….